A lifeline charity has reached a major landmark in its work by distributing its 10,000th food parcel to those in need.
East Durham Trust, which supports people in the former mining communities of the area, began emergency food supplies back in 2011 and have seen the need for the service grow in recent times.
The trust, which is based in Peterlee, identifies a range of factors for the increased demand including unemployment, cuts to welfare and benefits and most recently, the introduction of the controversial Universal Credit for people out of work or on low wages.
The trust supported a young couple with two children who had been informed that they would receive no benefits for at least three weeks, and had less than £5 to their name.
Records kept for over seven years show that the food parcel delivered to their home meant the trust has now hit the 10,000 milestone.
The announcement from the trust comes at a time when the national provider of foodbanks The Trussell Trust have published annual figures showing they have given out a record 1.3million food parcels to an estimated 666,000 people in 2017-18, a 13% increase on the previous year.
Areas where the full Universal Credit service had been in place for 12 months or more were shown to be four times as busy.
East Durham Trust’s chief executive Malcolm Fallow said today he expects no imminent reduction in demand.
He explained: “If anything we expect the need to grow, despite national reports of improvements in the economy and rises in living standards that is not being felt by the people of East Durham, we are constantly coming into contact with families and individuals who are experiencing real hardship and are quite literally struggling to put food on the table.”
The trust are however positive about the fact that the local community has supported the service for almost eight years with Mr Fallow adding: “It is testimony to the community spirit that still exists in East Durham that people continue to donate food to help those less fortunate than themselves.”